The Japanese Swamp Warbler, or Marsh Grassbird as it is sometimes known, is only found in east Asia and has a restricted and local distribution. BirdLife classifies it as “Near Threatened”. I saw and heard my first one in a reedy field at Dandong, Liaoning Province, this May and it was the memory of the song that came flooding back this morning when, on arrival at Wild Duck Lake, I could hear a bird singing from the reedbed close to the yurts at the western end of Ma Chang.
I was surprised that it was singing, not just because it is now mid-October (some warblers do sing occasionally on autumn migration) but because it was -2 degrees Celsius!
Nevertheless, it sang for over half an hour, just after sunrise, allowing me to make a recording of its song with my Canon EOS 7D. This bird won’t win any awards for its vocal repertoire, the song being rather repetitive, but it’s a distinctive sound and a joy to hear on a stunningly beautiful, still autumnal dawn at Wild Duck Lake.
Occasionally, it also clambered to the top of a reed, allowing me to capture an image. At the time I thought it must be a good Beijing record. After speaking to a couple of locals, it turns out that it is either the second or third record for the capital. Cool.